Northeast Oregon Economic Vitality Summit Brings Together Leaders from All Corners of NE Oregon

The turnout for the Northeast Oregon Economic Summit, held in La Grande, was impressive to say the least. A quick scan around the room at the Blue Mountain Conference Center one could see community leaders from all corners of NE Oregon.
Presented by Ford Institute for Community Building, and Rural Development Initiatives (RDI), the economic summit brought a diverse group of speakers, all passionate about the same thing, rural success. Northeast Oregon Community Capital Collaborate, La Grande Urban Renewal Agency, Baker Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District and the North Fork John Day Watershed Council, were all partners in the summit that generated many ideas, some solutions and new found momentum in how we can all work together to make NE Oregon an economically sound place to live.
Carol Peppe Hewitt, author of Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money spoke about her role as a pioneer in the community finance movement. Katrina Scotto di Carlo informed the group how NE Oregon could start their own buy local program, as an off-shoot of Supportland, a successful Portland based rewards program for buying local.
A panel of local experts also had ideas on how to make NE Oregon more economically stable. Tom Hutchison spoke about seeing our food go from field to market locally, instead of traveling hundreds of miles to be processed into an end product.
Lisa Dawson gave information about the NE Oregon Community Capital Collaborative which will help business owners weave their way through the process of finding local people that are wanting to invest in local businesses. The collaborative also has educational workshops.
Ginger Savage, Executive Director of the Crossroads Art Center, Annie Eskelin, Executive Director of the Art Center at the Old Library, and Mika Morton, Executive Director of Arts East rounded out the panel and talked about the economic importance of having an art culture in NE Oregon.
Noelle Colby-Rotell of RDI, Joyce Akse, with the Ford Institute and Maurizio Valeria of RDI were also added to the day with their insight an expertise.
I walked away feeling motivated and excited about the future of NE Oregon. As always, it will be great to be able to tell some of the stories that make up Northeast Oregon. Please look for a more rounded story about the economic summit in the Jan/Feb issue of Northeast Oregon Business News, which is set to hit newsstands at the beginning of January and the digital version should hit your inbox by January 1, 2015.
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